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Archive for the ‘circulation’ Category

“Our blood corresponds to the life energy within us, the movement of love and vitality throughout our being. Blood pressure can be raised by exertion, shock, conflict, or passion. High blood pressure is usually due to increased pressure and stress or anger and similar hot emotions. If it does not normalize easily, then it is know as hypertension…

Those who have high blood pressure are often over-active, as if doing everything possible to avoid themselves. Activity is a way of averting aggressive or emotional impulses – high blood pressure is symbolic of feelings not being expressed or even acknowledged, creating a buildup of inner pressure. As the emotions begin to spill over, physical difficulties can develop. It is essential that we learn how to read the signs before damage is done, and to connect more deeply with what is seething just below the surface. These are hot emotions which, if ignored for too long, create a great deal of damage.
 
What is getting you so heated? Are you applying the pressure yourself or is it coming from outside you? Are you trying to avoid something that is making you angry or upset? If high blood pressure is due to panic or fear, we need to recognize the insubstantiality of external events to reconnect with our inner balance. Breath awareness and inner conscious relaxation are essential.”
Deb Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind

We’ve all had our adrenalin and blood pressure rise at some point in our lives; it peaked for a few moments or hours then slowly returned to normal. But for some it does not return to its ‘normal’ level. When it doesn’t, it’s labelled hypertension. Our blood pressure is controlled by the brain which goes through a cyclical rhythm throughout the day reacting to stresses and anxieties caused by outside influences. These cycles can affect the normal rhythm of the body and the blood’s circulation.

Blood pressure is controlled by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system which works similar to a plane on ‘autopilot’. It ensures that your organs, such as your lungs or heart work without you thinking about it. Your awareness of this system is triggered when your body is threatened or needs (cries out) for your undivided attention. It is your nerves that carry these messages to the Thalamus also known as the ‘brains inner room’ . The Thalamus relays these nerve impulses to the cerebrum (responsible for our ability to speak, read and write) and helps you to realize ohh I’m in pain! Other areas of the brain tell you exactly where the hurt is coming from. The hypothalamus controls the movement of the heart, gut and bladder; makes us feel hungry, thirsty; feel angry or aggressive; and stops us from falling alseep during the day.

So high blood pressure is a perfectly natural response of the body under stressful conditions and exercise. When you go for your daily jog, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure goes up. The problem is when the blood pressure remains high after the stress has been eliminated and the exercise session ended.

Also, obesity and heart disease are escalating at an alarming rate, young and old alike…..and our children are more than ever before taking perscription medications for health……..and behavioral problems.

HYPOTHALAMUS AND MENOPAUSE

When progesterone, estrogen decreases, it affects the pituitary gland which is connected to and triggers the ovaries. It also has an intimate connection with the hypothalamus (that tiny gland in front of pituitary)….which reads our emotional reactions and tells us what ‘we ourselves have programmed’ to feel is alright or if there is a problem.

Here’s a great link explaining the Hypothalamus http://www.becomehealthynow.com/article/bodynervousadvanced/956/

Doctors once believed that since the blood pressure is controlled by the autonomic nervous system it wasn’t humanly possible to have conscious control of it. It has taken years of of several body/mind techniques to prove that the mind is definitely capable of taking charge. Before we venture into the study of these techniques, let’s look at the physical causes of high blood pressure.

PHYSICAL CONDITIONS AND HYERTENSION

There are many physical conditions that can elevate our blood pressure. Stress, smoking, salt, kidney disease, liver congestion, arteriosclerosis, nutrition and sometimes even tumors can cause our high blood pressure to rise.

STRESS

Stress can temporarily raise our blood pressure. It can be caused from an argument at home, with your boss, kids, spouse as well as fear, financial problems and other emotional problems that affect our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). When activated our SNS activates the adrenal glands to produce a hormone which tightens up or narrows the diameter of the blood vessels. This defense mechanism is actually supposed to help you function more efficiently by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients in the body’s tissues and cells. Temporarily this increase isn’t harmful unless you already have high blood pressure……in some instances this can cause a stroke.

As we age, the Hypothalamus can become overreactive and affect our stress fight/flight response. When the hypothalamus sees a problem it tells our adrenals, (adrenals see everything as a problem) and they pour out the adrenaline. The adrenals are situated just on top of the kidneys and help us through emergencies in life. If we are threatened the body produces adrenaline and cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) which creates within the body an intense flooded feeling even panic. Cortisol stays in the body longer than adrenaline, interferes with digestion and suppresses the immune system allowing tumors if present, to grow faster. Cortisol can create a fearful, threatened feeling that overstimulates our whole system. Unexplained muscle aches, chronic headaches, feeling hopeless or helpless and crying more than usual are signs of chronic overarousal. Anxiety coupled with cortisol has been known to cause unexplained heart palpitations, a nervous stomach, road rage and short temperedness.

FUTURE SHOCK

It was the book Future Shock (1970) that first described the diastrous effect of an accelerating ‘modern’ world on human life. Many other books since, have exposed this theory that too much change too fast weakens the body as well as its emotional and mental well being. Even if we are surrounded by material comfort, it will not reverse the damage done. The medical term for wear and tear upon the body is STRESS.

The widespread incidence of heart disease is increasing at an alarming rate…its becoming an epidemic. Not only men but women are suffering from hypertension and over half of all deaths result from circulatory disease. Not only that there has been an increase in the sale of sleeping pills which certainly indicates insomnia and sleeplessness is a major health problem and a precursor for other ailments including mental illness. And what about the stress on our children? Fighting, guns, knifes and behavioral problems are running rampant all over the world. Stress has become a serious problem!

SMOKING causes the blood vessels to constrict, decreasing oxygen and nourishment to the body as well as increased blood pressure. Nicotine has a stimulating effect on the adrenal glands which sends out a hormone (cortisol) to help defend the body from this toxin.

Also, smoking has been linked with cancer, osteoporosis, migraines, early menopause, immune disorders, insommia, stress, insulin reduction and many other problems.

Very interesting link http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-87214.html

“Cortisol imbalances due to inflammation can cause fatigue in several ways. Because cortisol is designed to keep you alert in times of stress, it can cause insomnia, and the lack of quality sleep will make you tired. Cortisol also suppresses insulin production to keep the sugar available for muscles in a stress response, and can result in low blood sugar, which will also make you fatigued. Lastly, your adrenal glands can ultimately become exhausted from the constant demands placed on them to produce endless amounts of cortisol, usually as a response to chronic inflammation from a poor diet and smoking.”

Also from this site……

“When your body is stressed and in fight-or-flight mode, it doesn’t want to expend any energy for immune system functions that are of no importance until you’ve either fought off or run away from whatever is endangering you. After the stress is over, the body assumes you may have some injuries which require an immune response to fight infected wounds, at which point the immune system kicks in again. But as long as your body is producing cortisol, even if it is just in response to inflammation, the immune system can become suppressed.

Experiments have shown that cortisol can reduce white blood cell production by 38%, and that prolonged elevation of cortisol can damage the thymus gland which produces these immune cells.”

Another great link with several interesting articles attached…..

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/272/1/151

SALT/SODIUM CHLORIDE

In this fast paced world many of us are digesting too many processed foods which are extremely high in salt content. Energy drinks designed to ‘boost’ your energy and keep you awake are ladened with caffeine and salt. When the body is overtaxed with these substances, it short-circuits and literally blows a fuse, which causes your system to breakdown. Salt is one of the most powerful stimulants for the body!

When sodium levels become excessive, wastes cannot be discharged from our cells and nutrients are not absorbed as well either. When this happens, cellular fluid increases and edema (water retention) can occur. This creates extra pressure on the blood vessels which increases the pressure inside causing high blood pressure.

One way of telling if you have too much salt in your system is by the amount of salt in your perspiration. Do you notice a white ring under the arms of that dark shirt you were wearing the other day. This white residue or dried perspiration is an indication of too much salt accumulation.

KIDNEY DISEASE

The main function of the kidneys (part of the urinary system) is to remove toxins and excess water. They have been known to filter almost 400 gallons of blood a day and over a quart of urine a day!

From http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4647

“The kidneys regulate the body’s fluid volume, mineral composition and acidity by excreting and reabsorbing water and inorganic electrolytes. This helps balance these substances (which include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, phosphate and hydrogen) in the body and keep their normal concentrations in the extracellular fluid. Body fluid volumes, which are regulated by the kidneys, are related to blood volume and the blood pressure in your arteries.”

A sodium/potassium imbalance can prevent the kidneys from eliminating liquid wastes from the body. Smoking has been known to be a contributor to kidney disease as well as lack of exercise, too much salt, excessive caffeine and a poor diet. etc.

LIVER

The liver processes about 6 cups of blood each minute….in fact all the blood in the body flows through the liver both to detox and pick up nutrients which it stores. It is one of the most important internal organs and considered the ‘master chemist’ of the body. If it becomes congested with toxins or chemicals a back pressure builds up which can cause hypertension. In fact liver congestion is one of the major causes of high blood pressure and heart problems.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS

Atherosclerosis is caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is a combination of cholesterol, calcium, triglycerides, blood proteins, etc. that overtime hardens and narrows the arterial system, reducing circulation and oxygen supply to the body.

More on this later in the Cholesterol section.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF ATHEROSCLEROSIS

From…. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Atherosclerosis/Atherosclerosis_Signs.html

“Atherosclerosis usually doesn’t cause signs and symptoms until it severely narrows or totally blocks an artery. Many people don’t know they have the disease until they have a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke.***

Some people may have other signs and symptoms of the disease. These depend on which arteries are severely narrowed or blocked.

The coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. When plaque narrows or blocks these arteries (a condition called coronary artery disease, or CAD), a common symptom is angina (AN-ji-na or an-JI-na).

Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina may feel like pressure or a squeezing pain in your chest. You also may feel it in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back.
This pain tends to get worse with activity and go away when you rest. Emotional stress also can trigger the pain.

Other symptoms of CAD are shortness of breath and arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
The carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. When plaque narrows or blocks these arteries (a condition called
carotid artery disease), you may have symptoms of a stroke. These symptoms include sudden numbness, weakness, and dizziness.

Plaque also can build up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis (a condition called peripheral arterial disease). When these arteries are narrowed or blocked, it can lead to numbness, pain, and sometimes dangerous infections.”

HEALTH AND NUTRITION

Again, prepared foods and fast food outlets are taking their toll on our health. It’s only recently they have taken trans fats out of their menus but high sodium levels and saturated fats are still in the food, a precursor for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Just imagine your morning breakfast, consisting of a cup of coffee, cereal, toast, juice, all landing in your stomach simultaneously. How does your stomach sort out the entire mess and how? Forcing the stomach to process all different kinds of food at once is taxing to the system. It’s like trying to balance your check-book, calculate your income tax and figure out a budget, all at the same time! Yikes!

Our body can only take so much interal abuse before it begins to show signs of disease. We need to continue to be on the alert for new better ways to improve our diet, emotions and lifestyle…..they are all closely interwoven.

to be continued…..

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“The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system, with a network of vessels taking blood around the body. Oxygen and other essential nutrients are taken to every cell via the arteries, while de-oxygenated blood is carried back in the veins. The heart is the center of this system, and its symbolic relationship to love is deeply entrenched in our collective psyche. That the heart represents love is the one part of the bodymind we all, univerally agreed upon. The blood represents the circulation of that love, the giving and receiving seen in the constant flow to and from the heart.”
Deb Shapiro
HOW THE HEART WORKS
The heart is no bigger than your fist but powerful enough to squeeze itself at about 75 times each minute. It works like a pair of pumps……each having its own chamber. The lower chamber called the ventricles, does most of the pumping. Above each one is an atrium which works to temporarily store the blood. There are also one-way valves at the exit from each atrium and ventricle which stops the blood from flowing backward. Amazing!
The heart is covered by bags of protection called the pericardium. It is a multilayered sac filled with slippery pericardial fluid which prevents the heart from bursting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericardium
The muscle wall of the heart is called the myocardium. There is no other muscle like it in the body. If it was left to beat on its own without the input of our brain it would beat at about a 100 beats a minute! It is our nerve impulses which actually slows it down to about 75 beats a minute or speeds it up depending on our emotional state at the time.
At the start of every cycle of the heartbeat, the muscles relax momentarily……blood pours into the right atrium. As the atrium contracts the valve known as the tricuspid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricuspid_valve opens and blood surges into the right ventricle. Blood vessels channel the blood around….the arteries carry blood out from the heart and it is our veins that return the blood to the heart.
It takes about 6 heartbeats for the blood to go all around the lungs and return to the heart. When the heart muscles relax, blood, rich in oxygen from the lungs whooshes into the left atrium. Blood gushes down from the atrium through the mitral (bisuspid) valve and into the left ventricle. While all this is going on the right atrium squeezes a bit before its partner on the left. When both atria squeeze they force blood down into both ventricles….the mitral valve closes and the left ventricle contracts. This forces blood up and out through the aortic valve into the aorta.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aortic_valve The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body. As blood enters the aorta from the heart, it starts a pressure wave along the arteries. This wave is seen as a pulse and travels faster then the blood……arriving at the wrist in about a 10th of a second!!! It is the arterial pulse a doctor or nurse feels at the wrist and can also be felt in other areas of the body too…eg., the neck, the the pelvis, the knee, etc.
YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
‘Normal blood pressure’ is about 120/80. Blood presses against the walls of the blood vessels and reaches a maximum at the aorta but is lower in the arteries and lower still in capillaries and veins. To check your blood pressure, a physician inflates a cuff around your upper arm and slowly releases the compression until he/she can hear the blood pumping through the blood vessel. When the sound is first heard, it is recorded as systolic pressure. As the cuff continues to deflate the sound fades away until it is no longer heard. The reading at this point is called the diastolic pressure. The systolic reflects the greatest amount of pressure in the blood vessel and the distolic represents the least amount of pressure which happens during the resting phase of the heartbeat. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_pressure
So, the pumping action of the heart is one of contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole) and as we have learnt is followed by a brief interval. It thrives on motion and demands stimulation. That’s why it is important to exercise, walk, swim, dance, etc. We need to have enough physical activity every day to increase our rate above its normal 68-75 beats per minute. Many have told that a good exercise routine that raises our pulse rate to above 120 beats per minute is important to keep the heart muscle strong and keep fat from from building up into the heart muscle and hindering its operation. When we don’t exercise our heart loses its ‘tone’. A normal heart rhythm also requires the balance of calcium, sodium and potassium in the blood and tissues.
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WHAT FOLLOWS
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This is one of several topics related to the heart and how it is affected by our emotions, anxieties, stress, weight gain and diet and exercise. In this section we will learn how this muscular organ continually beats and circulates blood around and through our bodies. The chapters following will focus on the heart chakra, the thymus gland, the astrological sign associated to it, the psychological causes of heart disease, high blood pressure and much much more.

It is truly a miracle how a bunch of cells somehow come together and start the first organ of the body, the heart to start beating. I still remember the ultrasound with my first child and watching in awe the pulsing light on the computer screen. I am sure this experience was one of the many motivations that lead and connected me to the path of healing.

Also, my first child was born with a hole in his heart which prompted me to seek out, comprehend and understand why this happened. My father as well suffered heart problems which started in 1941; he not only suffered a heart attack in the armed forces but while in a military hospital contracted scarlett/rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever damaged the valves of his heart, affected his nervous and immune system as well as causing arthritis in his joints. (When the heart valve becomes deformed by inflammations as in rheumatic fever, the blood may leak through them in the wrong direction!) Through all this and much more, he lived to the age of 83. My dad believed commitment and responsibility are the first steps in taking control of one’s life. The 2nd step is being optimistic and confident that we can beat back any disease and live a normal life.

The Heart chakra is where you begin the journey of converting your raw emotions from the 2nd chakra……self awareness from the the 3rd chakra and converting these gut-level emotions, tenderly and vulnerably into ‘how I truly feel’. So easy to say, so hard to do.

The 2nd chakra or Sacral chakra, located in the abdominal center and sexual organs, is important in the development of self-love. Creativity, increased feelings of security, and connection with others all help to develop your personality and behavior, from your childhood. In later years, the flow of energy through the Heart (4th) chakra will create an even deeper sense of self-love and love for others. If the 2nd chakra is stifled, however, the later development of the 4th chakra may also be hindered.

“Too much fire from the heart will disrupt the mind and emotions. Anyone who’s ever had a hot flash, trouble sleeping due to mental activity or an anxiety attack can attest to this. Going through menopause causes heat and heart symptoms. These may manifest as upper body heat sensations, sweating, insomnia or disturbed sleep, mental fluctuations, feeling unsettled and nervousness. It can disturb the moisture balance of the lungs and inflame the ministerial fire of the liver, resulting in digestive dysfunction. If left unchecked long enough, it can manifest in autoimmune disorders.” Handbook of Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda ~ By Bridgette Shea

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